I can hardly contain my excitement!
Four weeks from this very Wednesday, Frank and I will get off a plane and step onto the soil of the Holy Land! (Well, more likely onto concrete. But you know what I mean.)
Many years ago, my mom learned about the phrase uttered often by Jewish people in ancient times, "Next year in Jerusalem!"
This shout of declaration apparently referred to their desire for being in the Holy City. (I looked it up and have a longer explanation at the bottom of this post.)
Any time we talked about a dream, something we longed for or even a disappointment, Mom would end the conversation by throwing her hand into the air and shouting in her best Yiddish accent, "Oh well! Next year in Jerusalem!"
For me, it stuck. And I've heard it again and again in my heart over the years.
Now. Finally. At long last. It moves from a "dreamed for" event to - It's Happening!
My heart beats faster and my ears perk up with every news report mentioning Israel.
Some have asked if we're concerned about going to the Middle East with so much turmoil. My response, the Middle East has been in turmoil for almost 3000 years. And I don't mean that to sound flippant. Those who have traveled there tell us Israel is well protected and dangerous areas are completely off limits to tourists.
(Even for tourists like my husband who makes friends everywhere and often gets invited to some interesting spots. Caution is very different from fear.)
As we read guidebooks and watch travel videos, we see this phrase a lot: "Israel, Welcome Home!"
And I must admit, it feels a little like that in preparing ourselves. A little like going home. Israel is a nation I've read about and followed almost every day of my adult life.
I've memorized portions of the Sermon on the Mount. Now, I'll stand on the Mount!
I've sung countless times about the Via Dolorosa. Now, I'll walk that road.
I've taught about David and Goliath. We'll visit that very valley.
I am named for a rose that originates in that region of the world. I'll experience its native habitat.
I've directed re-enactments of the Last Supper. We'll see the very room.
I've followed Jesus' example of water baptism. I'll put my feet in the Jordan River.
I've pondered his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. I'll be shaded by similar trees.
I've taught my children about the power of the cross. We'll quiet ourselves at that location.
I've celebrated the empty tomb. We'll peer into a cave marked as His tomb.
And since the first time I read of people standing at the remains of the Western Wall of the Temple to pray, I've longed to stand there. I'm crying now just thinking about being able to place the names of my children in a crevice of that wall. It seems like it must surely be an incredibly sacred experience.
Anticipating things is such a wonderful part of life. Especially when we anticipate things we know will take place. I think of all the times Mom's eyes would sparkle as she shouted, "Next year in Jerusalem!"
Now it's my eyes shining as I call out, "Next MONTH in Jerusalem!"
*Extra information I found explaining the phrase -
"But our phrase also offers a more majestic sense of hope. The uttering of "next year in Jerusalem" is a way of expressing solidarity with Klal Yisrael,
the entire Jewish community, past, present and future. "Next year"
encapsulates that continuing flicker of hope that has sustained Jews for
centuries past in the midst of despair. It also offers hope that the
Israeli nation of today will find peace and that Jerusalem will remain a
potential future haven."